Learning how to promote your music is essential.
Whether you’ve exported your first beat out of FL Studio, or recorded your first LP – you need to learn this crucial skill. Especially if you want to succeed in the music industry.
Yet frequently, I read conversations online and receive emails from people that essentially say this:
“You need a lot of money to get your music heard.”
Not only are artists saying this, but label executives and managers are also claiming that you need money to really promote your music properly.
But is it true? Not necessarily.
Yes—money does help. Major labels can push releases into the ears of millions of people. They can do this because they have capital and large promotion strategies. But there’s another side to it:
You don’t need a lot of money to get your music heard… in fact, you might not need any money at all.
So today, we’re going to go over how to promote your music – on a budget.
Warning: this is not for everyone
Getting your music heard on a budget is possible. But here’s the thing:
- Getting your music heard means you need to actually produce good music. If you’re new to production, there’s no point learning how to promote your music if it’s not good. Master the fundamentals then focus on your craft.
- Getting your music heard takes EFFORT. Real effort and time. If you’re looking for a shortcut or a silver bullet approach – you’ll be disappointed.
- Getting your music heard means you need to learn new skills, strategies, tactics. You’re not just an artist, you’re a marketer too.
This isn’t easy, but if you do the work, you’ll see results. Especially if you use the right tactics and strategies.
In this article, I’ll share 5 tips for how to promote your music on a budget.
If you want more 5 more tips on how to get your music heard on a budget, download our free eBook: Producer Marketing: 10 Tips to Promote Your Music on a Budget.
Tip 1: Develop Creative Consistency
One of the most common mistakes I see independant artists make when learning how to promote music is this:
They release a song. It does well. Maybe they’ve put a lot of effort into promoting it. Maybe it gets a taste of that viral goodness…
But a month later? Nothing. The life cycle of the song has ended…
And guess what? The artist hasn’t finished anything else. There’s no follow-up release. Everyone loses interest, including people who could have become fans if they hadn’t got tired of waiting for the next release.
You need to release music consistently.
Aim for one release per month if you can. If you’re releasing on labels, constantly having a flow of new music to send to them is key.
Not only will this increase the total amount of plays you get over all your tracks, it will also help you grow your audience and gain super fans.
Here’s what writer Jeff Goins says about this principle:
At the end of the day, there’s no promoting music if there’s no music.
How often are you currently finishing and releasing music? If you’re not able to finish a song once every month or so, then you may have a workflow or general commitment issue. Here are 3 resources to check out:
- Song Finishing Checklist. This will help you finish all those projects of yours that are 80-90% finished (you know, the ones you’re scared of opening again because they haunt you).
- Turning Pro (Book). Steven Pressfield writes being an artist in a way that pierces the reader’s soul. This book will help you think seriously about your craft. It will inspire you to not rely on being inspired, but rather to do the work even when it’s tough.
- Workflow Foundations. Our comprehensive course for turning ideas into full songs. You’ll learn tactics and tips for working through each stage of the production process (idea generation, arrangement, mixing and more). Use code: ‘WF20’ for 20% off the course.
Once you’ve checked out these resources, commit yourself to a schedule.
Set a goal to finish and release one track every two weeks, or one track every month. Upload it to Soundcloud. Get feedback. Just make it consistent. Stick to it.
Tip 2: Have a plan for your release
I’d finish a song after hours of focused work. It’s not easy finishing a song.
So I was just happy to finish it, and I wanted everyone to hear the result of my hard work (you know exactly what I’m talking about).
I’d mash together cheap artwork for the song (or just find a photo), give it a name, then upload it to Soundcloud.
Then, of course, I enacted my song promotion strategy, which consisted of posting on Facebook once and messaging a bunch of high school friends.
It didn’t work.
Here’s the thing: when you want your release to do well, you need to be patient.
You need to wait before releasing and ask yourself: “What can I do to increase the chance of this song being heard by as many people as possible?”
Instead of carelessly uploading your songs and hoping for the best, create a plan for how to promote your new music release.
- Week 1: 3 weeks before release—finalize the master, get artwork designed, reach out to blog and YouTube channels.
- Week 2: Follow up with blogs/YouTube channels, plan out social media campaign, finalize release details.
- Week 3: Start posting teasers and pre-release content on social media.
- Week 4 (release): Update graphics across social media, send out release to promotional outlets and blogs, start ad campaign.
Your plan doesn’t need to be super complex. Experiment with it. Refine it. But please put one in place.
Design your own song release plan. Start with just the basics so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Bonus Tip: Schedule out time to work on your song promotion the same way you’d schedule out time to work on music. It is important, and if it’s not in your calendar, you won’t do it.
Tip 3: Build and leverage your network
If you don’t have a network yet, read this article…
…because you can’t thrive in this industry without one.
Face it: when it comes to getting your music heard, what’s more effective?
Cold emailing 20 blogs, labels, YouTube channels and socia media influencers who don’t even know you…
Or asking friends for a favor?
It’s the latter. Every time.
So start forming relationships with people who can help promote your music…
- Mutual friends who have a large following on their personal or artist Facebook page
- Owners of blogs and YouTube promotional channels
- Owners or A&Rs at labels
- Other people who have big networks
Note: it’s much easier to ask someone for a favour if you’ve already added value to their lives. I explain how to do this in the article linked above. Your network can also teach you a lot about how to promote your music.
- Figure out who in your current network could help promote your music. Do something for them first, so they don’t feel taken advantage of.
- Grow your network. Strengthen it. Connect with more people.
Again, if you want help in doing this, we’ve published a comprehensive 4,000 word article with specific tactics and strategies on how to build your network as an artist. Read it here.
Tip 4: Create Your Own Artwork & Videos
If you want people to pay attention when you promote your music, well-designed, eye catching and suitable artwork is key.
But in the past, you had to get a designer to do your artwork.
Still, if you want really good graphic design work, it’s best to hire a designer.
But this book is about promoting your music on a budget, and good designers aren’t cheap. So unless you’re a designer yourself or you have a friend who wants to help you out for free, read on.
Option one: fiverr.com
If you happen to have blessed ears at the expense of eyes that don’t work well—in other words, you can’t design something to save yourself—then this is your best bet.
You’re not going to get unique, original, super-fancy designs. But you’ll get something good enough, for the price of a couple of coffees.
Option two: design it yourself
Canva is user-friendly, free/cheap, and comes with a bunch of templates for all sorts of platforms. It’s also gotten a lot of cool filters recently for adding more creative flair. We use it a lot here at EDMProd.
You can create social media posts, logos, cover photos, ad graphics… anything you like. And it’s easy to promote from, as you can share straight to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Snappa is less popular and less intuitive (in my opinion), and costs $15/month. But it has some nice advertising templates. I use both.
Of course, there are other tools like Photoshop, which you can get on a ‘Photography’ Creative Cloud plan for $9.99USD/month.
Photoshop is super powerful, but is like the equivalent of learning a DAW. So unless you’re prepared to spend and dive in deep, use one of the other options.
What about teaser videos? Lyric videos? YouTube promos?
Again, you can hire freelancers for this, but they aren’t going to be cheap.
Two other options:
- Promo: Good for marketing videos. Not super cheap ($49 for one video)
- Pexels: Stock video resource. You might have to do some digging to find exactly what you want, but there is some high quality stuff here.
- Renderforest: Great for reusable templates—lyrics videos, visualizers, etc.
Either find someone to design artwork for your upcoming release (or
latest release), or design it yourself using one of the tools mentioned
Tip 5: Build A Promo List
In addition to building your network, you should have a database of contact details for blogs, playlist owners, artists, and other people who can help promote your music.
Set up a spreadsheet that looks something like this…
How to find details:
- Look on the blogs and YouTube channels for contact details. They’re normally there.
- Ask people in your network for details and email addresses.
- Use Google.
- Look for other promo lists (people sometimes give them out—whether that’s a wise thing to do or not is up for debate, but they’re out there).
Using the promo list:
Your promotion list is not a spam list.
In other words, when you release a track, don’t just blindly send it to everyone on the list with a generic promotional email. It will seem impersonal.
In fact, certain spammy words or phrases are sure to send your email straight to the junk folder.
Instead, use it as a bank of contacts. When you do release a song, ask yourself who would best benefit from promoting it? What blogs would like it most? What YouTube channels would upload it? What playlists would it work well on?
Start building your promo list. Create a spreadsheet and add contact
details for 5 blogs, 5 YouTube channels, 5 playlist owners and 5 other
Recommended: How To Properly Submit Demos to Labels
Don’t give up
You can get your music heard.
If it sounds decent, you plan out your releases, and you remain consistent, you can get your music heard.
But you may be disappointed. It might not “take off” like you expect, straight away. You may have to wait longer than you think.
But don’t give up. It will come. The plays will roll in slowly, but consistently. Your successive releases will start to do better… they’ll start to be shared more. You’ll see results.
Want more strategies and tactics for getting your music heard on a budget? Check out our free eBook on the 10 Steps to Promote Your Music on a Budget. Click here to download it.
What’s the next step you need to take to get your music heard? Share in the comments section below…